Since the beginning of the pandemic, Philly has experienced a boom in mutual aid. This is especially true when it comes to refrigerators and community pantries that allow anyone with extra food to donate directly and anyone who needs it to take it.
Most, if not all, community fridges in the area are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and require no registration to serve or take food—help can happen at any time.
By our count, there are more than 30 of these locations across the city — up from 25 or so when I last checked The Inquirer in April. And they are in constant use, requiring regular storage, volunteers to keep things running, and financial donations to aid in their efforts.
“[The fridges] She looks completely different every eight hours. “There’s an incredible amount of sales,” says Victoria Martin Nelson, a volunteer with South Philadelphia Community Fridge, which operates four refrigerators and warehouses in South Philly. “People are struggling – they were struggling before the pandemic, and people will struggle [much] or more after the pandemic.”
While food insecurity is present year-round, it may come to the fore for many people on holidays like Thanksgiving, which focus specifically on food. But, Matt Stebbins, co-founder of Coral Street Fridge, notes that donating to community refrigerators can and should be a “lifelong practice.”
“It’s not about the next two weeks,” Stebbins says. The problem of food insecurity will not be solved on New Year’s Day. It’s about making this a part of your life.”
So, who operates Philly Community Refrigerators, and where can they be found? And what can you find or donate there? Here is what you need to know.
»Read more: The refrigerator scene in a thriving Philly community.
With nearly 20 community refrigerators and pop-up grocery stores, Mama-Tee has locations across town that you can support. Refrigerators are cleaned and filled weekly by a team of volunteers, and you can join by emailing the organization at email@example.com.
Mama T Refrigerators are in:
Fruits, vegetables, dairy products, pantry items (as long as they are properly packed and contain ingredients listed), hot dogs, bread (should be sealed and not expired), water, and juice (low sugar if possible). Have these items delivered at any Mama-Tee location.
You can make a cash donation via the organization’s GoFundMe page.
any expired or unlabeled food, any non-food items, leftovers, improperly packaged food, candy or sugary items, condiment packages, peanut butter, salty or sugary snacks, or baked goods, Or meats (raw or cooked), open food, or homemade meals.
This organization serves many families with young children, as well as many homeless people, at its four locations, Martin-Nelson says. Fridges are checked twice daily, and the organization is always looking for help – you can fill out an online volunteer interest form, email the organization at firstname.lastname@example.org, or send a direct message on Instagram.
You can find South Philly Community Fridge locations at:
Cooked meat and seafood. Takeaway (labeled in English and Spanish with ingredients, common allergens and date of manufacture); Fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs. Bread, pastries, dairy products and eggs. Rice, pasta, grains and beans. Basic food items such as sugar, flour, cooking oil, spices and seasonings. Snacks like granola bars or packaged sandwiches; Bottled water and sports drinks.
Financial donations are accepted via the Venmo App and Cash App. Or you can purchase items from the organization’s goal registry, which are then shipped to the volunteer’s home and placed in the fridge. You can also shop for refrigerators yourself, and email the organization a receipt for items you’ve donated to be redeemed for up to $35 via Venmo or Cashapp (or you can just buy some of the organization’s gifts, whose profits are practically beneficial).
Raw meat and seafood. leftovers. unlabeled or expired food; alcohol; In general, anything that you would not eat yourself or feed to your loved ones.
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Launched in early 2021, Fridges and Family today has three locations in Philly, and one in East Orange, NJ – the hometown of co-founder Justin Battle. To volunteer to help you with tasks like picking up and delivering food, running social media accounts, or something else, fill out the volunteer form on the organization’s website, email email@example.com, or send a direct message on Instagram.
Philly refrigerator and pantry locations can be found at:
Their sites focus on “the basics you want in your home,” says Patel, such as:
canned goods; egg; milk and other dairy products; water, juice, bread; fruits and vegetables; rice; sausage; Toiletries and hygiene products.
If you wish to donate money, it is best to do so through the organization’s Cash App, or by purchasing an electronic gift card. To donate to the Temple University site, purchase items from Amazon’s wishlist, which will be sent to the organizer who will store them at that location (the temple site is inside the 1940’s dorm, and is not accessible to the public).
unpackaged or expired items; Home cooked meals.
Founder Jane Ellis launched this collection in 2020, which today includes two refrigerators and a Germantown pantry that accepts a variety of items. Fridge checks are done twice daily, and you can volunteer to help with this by filling out volunteer forms for any Sign Up Genius location – or if you’d like to shop for your fridge or help pick up food, contact the organization by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or By direct message on Instagram.
Find Germantown Community Fridge locations at:
Feel free to leave any of the following at either location (be sure to take any trash with you and keep spaces organized):
Bread; Homemade or prepackaged meals (labeled by common allergens, date made, and ingredients); milk; egg; frozen meat and seafood; fresh and frozen products; Vegan Items Gluten Free Baby Food and Milk. ready-to-use snacks; canned foods with pop-tops (especially soups); Spices and seasonings. macaroni; rice; Baby diapers and wipes. Menstrual supplies, toiletries and hygiene products. items of personal protective equipment; reusable plastic and paper bags; New and unexpired dog and cat food can openers.
To donate money that helps keep refrigerators stocked and running, you can use the Cash app or Venmo. Or you can purchase food from the organization’s Amazon wish list that will be shipped to a volunteer who stores your items.
clothes; Cooking utensils Items that have been opened, partially used, unpacked, expired or not labeled; raw meat; alcohol.
This Kensington-based organization operates a refrigerator, pantry and bookshelf at its Coral Street location, where a variety of items are accepted, says Stebbins and co-founder Anthony Perez. You can volunteer to help run, clean, and coordinate the food; Contact the organizers by email at email@example.com, or by message on Instagram.
Find a location for Coral Street Refrigerator in 2670 Al Murjan Street
Home-cooked and prepackaged meals (labeled with common allergens, date of manufacture, and ingredients); Cooked meat and seafood. fruits and vegetables (fresh or frozen); Bread and pastries, dairy products and eggs. Rice, grains, pasta and beans. Pantry items such as sugar, flour, cooking oil, spices, and condiments. canned foods with removable lids; Individually packaged snacks (such as small bags of potato chips or Tastykakes); bottled water; Feminine hygiene products. diapers; naloxone; books.
Financial donations can be made via Venmo, the Cash App, or PayPal. If you want to donate the items directly, you can leave them in the refrigerator.
unpackaged, unlabeled, expired or opened items; Raw meat and seafood. alcohol; leftovers.
»Read more: Community refrigerators are common in Philly.
With its single location, East Falls Community Fridge aims to provide as much of the neighborhood as possible with a fridge, freezer, and pantry by focusing on keeping basic fridges, pantry tools, and homemade meals in stock, says curator Sarah Cummins. You can volunteer for refrigerator check-ins, deep cleanings, and weekly shopping via the group form on Sign Up Genius.
If you use your fridge to get food, you can fill out a form that orders certain items via this Google survey.
Find East Falls Community refrigerator in 3507 Midvale Ave.
fruits and vegetables (fresh or frozen); egg; Bread and pastries, ready-made meals, homemade meals (in a closed container labeled with the date of manufacture, best date of manufacture, ingredients); Dairy products such as cheese, milk, and yogurt (as long as it is packed and labeled); canned goods; Vegan Items Toiletries (in limited quantities)
To make a cash donation, check out the collection on Venmo.
raw meat; leftovers. open, unnamed, or expired items; alcohol; clothes.
This location in the Cedar Park/Squirrel Hill area of West Philly features a community refrigerator, deep freezer, and dry goods store catering primarily to families, singles, and LGBTQ youth. Groceries are stocked twice a month, and from food donations.
Find Cedar Park Community Fridge in a 4819 Springfield Ave.
basic food items (milk, juice, bread, butter, eggs, cheese, rice, pasta, flour, root vegetables); Grab items (fruit cups, cheese sticks, snack packs); frozen foods (meat, pasta, foods that can be cooked in the microwave, ice cream); prepared foods (one meal, packaged, labeled with dates); Dry goods (cosmetics and health products, first aid supplies, canned and packaged food).
Leafy greens, open parts, uncut foods, leftovers, alcohol.
In addition to the above list, there are many, many other sites that you can visit or support. If you want to help, they will take food donations, financial donations, and volunteers. For the most part, their needs are similar, but it’s best to reach out to them before you donate if you have questions.
Here are additional community refrigerators in Philadelphia:
Did we miss your local community refrigerator, or would you like to add yours to the list? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Victoria Martin Nelson, a communications volunteer with the South Philadelphia Community Refrigerator.
Jane Ellis, founder of Germantown Community Fridge.
Sarah CumminsOrganizer with East Falls Community Refrigerator.
Cynthia Miller, member of the management team at Mama-Tee Fridge.
Justin BattleCo-founder of Fridges and Family.
Matt StebbinsCo-founder of Coral Street Fridge.
Anthony PerezCo-founder of Coral Street Fridge.
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